US Secretary Of State Makes Historic Visit To Suriname, Guyana Today

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Caribbean island of Jamaica on Tuesday evening, Jan. 21, 2020, his first Caribbean visit as Secretary of State. (US Embassy of Jamaica image/Facebook)
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News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. Sept. 17, 2020: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will kick off a historic visit to Suriname and Guyana today as part of a three day South American trip.

Pompeo will begin his trip in Paramaribo with Surinamese President Santokhi and Foreign Minister Ramdin. According to the State Department’s Office of the Historian, this is the first visit of a secretary of state to Suriname since its independence.

The Secretary will meet with local representatives of U.S. mining and oil companies that are part of this sector’s critical investment in Suriname’s prosperity and future growth and highlight through these meetings how U.S. companies throughout the hemisphere invest responsibly and transparently.

Also, today, September 17, the Secretary will visit Georgetown to meet with Guyana’s new President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who was inaugurated in August after the results of the March 2020 elections were finally announced. Like his history-making visit to Suriname, this is the first visit of a secretary of state to Guyana since its independence. The United States and Guyana will exchange diplomatic notes for joint maritime patrols to interdict narcotics and also sign a Growth in the Americas memorandum of understanding. This will permit Guyana to improve its investment enabling environment so that the country can benefit from transparent infrastructure investment that respects Guyana’s sovereignty.  The two countries will also sign a MOU on joint maritime patrols to interdict drugs and drug traffickers that are causing security problems.

On a briefing call yesterday, a senior department official, said that there is “clearly a shared interest in being sure that the oil development pans out to fortify the democratic, open, transparent nature of these countries and not to exacerbate problems of corruption and so on.”

And he insisted the trip is not “an effort to put any pressure on Guyana,” which is evaluating a new ExxonMobil’s development plan. “What we are trying to do is help Guyana and Suriname develop the kinds of welcoming environments for honest foreign investment that both want and need to further their prosperity and development. And so I think this is a case where everybody is in agreement as to what they want and it’s a question of what do we do to get us from here to there. The Exxon evaluation will be done on its own merits by the Guyanese experts,” the senior official added.

On September 18 in Georgetown, Pompeo will also meet with Guyana’s Foreign Minister Hugh Todd and with CARICOM Secretary-General LaRocque to discuss U.S.-Caribbean issues.

The US State Department also said Pompeo will also discuss with Guyana’s leaders the impact on their country of the crisis in Venezuela, which is the hemisphere’s largest refugee and humanitarian crisis.